GCSE questions answered

Thousands of pupils are picking up their GCSE results today, so here's our handy guide on what happens next.

On results day, you would have received a results slip showing your provisional results – officially called a Candidate Statement of Provisional Results. Results are provisional in case there is a change; for example, your grade could go up or down if your exam paper is reviewed.

Your options if you’re not happy with your results

If you’re unhappy with your results, please speak to your teachers about the best options for you. Getting your paper reviewed is one option to consider. You can request a photocopy of the marked exam paper to help you to decide whether to request a review of marking or a clerical check. A review of marking could mean that you end up with the same or a lower mark, so your school/college will ask you for written consent before they request it on your behalf.

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If the results remain the same your school/college may charge you an admin fee. November 2016 is a resit only series but is restricted to entries for English, English Language and Maths, and you’ll need to re-sit all written exams. For other subjects, your earliest re-sit opportunity will be in June 2017, and you will also need to re-sit all written exams. Speaking and Listening doesn’t count towards final grades in GCSE English and English Language. It’s a separate endorsement, graded on a scale of 5-1. If you’re unhappy with your results you will not be able to re-take speaking and listening on its own, you will need to re-take the whole GCSE English/English Language qualification. If you have any complaints, every school has a complaint process.

Further education

There are a lot of different options after you leave school. If you were born after 1st September 1997 you have to stay in education until you’re 18. Staying in education and learning until you’re 18 does not mean you have to just stay in school, there are many choices available. It’s about choosing the one that will make you happiest and will help you kick start your career.

Full time education

There are several different choices here. First, you can stay at school in your sixth form and study academic subjects to A level. This is a great route if you’re planning on going to university. You’ll usually study 3 to 4 A levels which take 2 years, at the end of which you’ll take an exam in each of the subjects. Alternatively you can study both academic and vocational courses at college as your school may not have a sixth form. Many level 3 courses which you can study at a further education college are equivalent to 2 to 3 A levels and you’re gaining in-depth vocational training.

Part time education

If you’re working, in self employment or more than 20 hours a week you can also study part-time as well to support you in further improving your work skills.


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Apprenticeships combine practical training with study. These are now a very popular option, with the government offering employers incentives to take on young apprentices. With an apprenticeship, if you’re aged 16 to 18 you work for an employer for no more than 40 hours a week, receive a wage and on-the-job training, plus you’ll study at college for a nationally recognised qualification. This college study has to be within your 40 hours working week and your employer will pay you a wage to cover your working hours, including the time you’re at college studying.

Will my GCSE grade affect my choice?

Many A levels and other lever 3 courses in sixth forms and at college require you to have at least 5 GCSE’s or more at grades A* to C. If you have grades D to G or less than 5 GCSE passes, there are still many options for you to choose from.

You could study level 2 courses for a year to gain the necessary qualifications to GCSE’s to allow you to progress to level 3 courses, you could resit your GCSE’s or you could begin an apprenticeship at level 2. A final option (not for everyone) is to join the armed forces as they offer different levels of skills training to suit your needs.

Careers advice and guidance

Whether you know exactly what you want to do for your career or you don’t know where to start or what subjects you want to study, it is absolutely crucial that you seek out careers advice and guidance.

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You need to research colleges, sixth forms and all course options by not only crawling over their websites in minute detail but also visiting their open days and asking for prospectuses and course guides.
If you’re thinking about an apprenticeship see if you can visit local employers who already employ apprentices to talk with the apprentices and see what it’s really like in the workplace.

You can also consider helplines, such as the exam results headline. Funded by the Department for Education, the helpline provides impartial advice to anyone who has got their A Level or GCSE results and wants to talk through their options. The helpline is open every day until Wednesday 31st August. Nick Hynes, a careers adviser who has worked for the service for over 25 years said: “We usually find that a lot of young people who are picking up their GCSEs aren’t aware of all the options available to them other than sixth form. The Government have put a lot of funding into apprenticeships recently which can offer a great alternative that some teenagers haven’t considered. If the caller hasn’t achieved the grades they need, we will discuss alternative routes into the profession of choice, as well as highlighting the possibility of going to other local colleges that are available.”

The exam results helpline has been open for 4 days so far and every day advisers have been busy helping young people over the phone and on Facebook. Advisers have been talking to callers about re-sits and retakes, gap years, clearing, adjustment, apprenticeships, funding and student accommodation.

Drop in sessions

Tutors from Hampshire-based charity Enham Trust’s Skills2Achieve learning centres offer young people, who may have missed out on their desired grade, advice and guidance on what to do next. The drop in sessions provide disappointed young people the chance to talk to professionals in a informal setting and receive tailored education and advice about alternative options for their future.

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Stephanie Hurst, Skills2Achieve team leader said: “When students receive their results and it’s not quite what they expected or needed, they can feel extremely deflated and unmotivated. We want to remind them that there are so many options available to ensure a bright future.

Having someone to talk to is extremely important during this period in a young person’s life, we want to ensure that those who feel slightly unsure about their future are able to gain professional advice. More importantly we want them to feel less worried and more positive about the journey ahead of them.”

Skills2Achieve is a unique programme to support young disadvantaged job seekers, run from several centres across Hampshire, including Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke and Andover. This programme is designed to help people aged between 16 and 19. currently not in education, training or employment. They also help disabled people up to 25 years old with an aim of finding apprenticeships, find work or start full-time education.

Skills2Achieve Tutors will be available in Portsmouth from 10am – 3pm at Somerstown Community Centre, River’s Street, PO5 4EY ready to answer any concerns or questions students may have to encourage them to be positive and look forward to the next chapter of their lives.

Jobs you can get after your GCSE’s

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If you leave school after your GCSEs, you have lots of options, from further learning to apprenticeships (you will need to be in some kind of learning or training until you’re 18, though). Once you’ve headed into the world of work, your GCSEs can take you a long way.

Here are ten jobs you can do if you have GCSEs but no A-levels or their equivalents. In some cases, qualifications aren’t required at all

1.Train Driver (£50, 000) - 5 GCSEs (including English and maths)

2.Sales Executive (£18, 000) - Flexible, but usually 5 GCSEs including English and maths

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3.Flight Attendant/Air Cabin Crew (£24, 000) - Core GCSEs including English and maths

4.PR Executive (£15, 000-£20, 000) - 5 GCSEs including English and maths

5.Healthcare Assistant (£12,000 - £16,000 (up to £21,000 with experience)) -experience is more relevant that specific GCSEs

6.Transport Clerk (£13,000-£16,000 (and £50,000 once you become a supply chain manager)) – GCSE requirements can very

7.Commis-Chef (£14, 000+) - No qualifications needed

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8.Estate Agent (£12, 000 - £30, 000+) - GCSE’s with good passing grades in English and Maths

9.Plumber/Electrician (£10, 000 - £30, 000+) Qualifications not required

10.Engineering Apprentice (£15, 000 - £20, 000) GCSEs in subjects like English, maths, science and technology


CV/Covering Letter

There’s no use going job hunting until you have a good CV to send to your employers. A CV is worth spending a lot of time on since it has the power to influence your possible future employer. After school you will probably not have any or only little experience and a short list of GCSE’s, so make sure you focus on explaining why your personal qualities make you a suitable candidate. Any work experience you’ve done should be detailed and drawn attention to. You should also consider targeting your CV, which means changing aspects of your CV to emphasise skills you possess that are applicable to the role.

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A covering letter is a letter that is given to your prospective employer along with your CV. It is specifically tailored to a vacancy, ensure this is a positive message that outlines why you are suitable for the role. Emphasise your availability, in terms of when you can start work and the hours you can work.

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